In preparation for Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the United States, GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, released “The Papal Visit: a resource guide for journalists covering Pope Francis and the LGBT community.” The playbook was released after GLAAD, DignityUSA and 28 other groups published a letter asking Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics.
“In a world where the lives of LGBT Catholics and their allies are often misrepresented by the Church hierarchy and the media, this guide empowers journalists to report in a more inclusive and accurate way,” said GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis. “While talking heads reinforce the ‘God vs. gay narrative,’ the reality is that many LGBT people are also individuals of deep faith and that millions of people of faith support their LGBT friends and family.”
As LGBT acceptance and equality surge forward around the world, the Catholic hierarchy’s position is increasingly out of step with its members. Ireland recently passed marriage equality by popular vote despite being a country that is over 80 percent Catholic. In Mexico, which is 82 percent Catholic, the Supreme Court issued a decree that effectively legalized marriage equality in the country. The U.S., itself almost 21 percent Catholic, also made marriage the law of the land earlier this year. Approximately 60 percent of those U.S. Catholics, of diverse backgrounds, support marriage equality, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. Despite this majority, the media and Church hierarchy often misrepresent the experiences of LGBT Catholics by focusing on anti-LGBT pundits, bishops, and activists. In 2012 “Missing Voices,” a study of religious voices in mainstream media, found that the media overwhelmingly quotes or interviews Christians with negative messages towards the LGBT community and that three out of four religious messages came from people whose religions have formal polices opposing LGBT equality.
While this guide mentions some anti-LGBT statements, it also includes LGBT-supportive Catholics and LGBT Catholic organizations in an effort to reflect and encourage growing support among Catholics. The guide also contains story ideas focusing on both LGBT acceptance and opposition among Catholics.
In addition, the playbook contains a timeline outlining some of the Pope’s most prominent actions and statements about the LGBT community as well as best practices, pitfalls, and terms to avoid when discussing LGBT Catholics. The entire playbook is written in both English and Spanish. It will be distributed to media prior to the Pope’s visit, and will be a part of GLAAD’s presence during the World Meeting of Families and the Papal visit in Philadelphia in September. GLAAD will be engaging with reporters in Philadelphia, providing them with resources and connecting them to LGBT organizations and individuals who will also be present.
GLAAD’s “The Papal Visit” resource guide was developed as part of the organization’s longstanding work to elevate LGBT-affirming voices of faith in mainstream media.